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Ranger Freeman

Ranger Freeman

“Having a uniformed officer in the school is a good influence on the kids, and helps them understand that law enforcement is there to help them,” says Rappahannock Community College graduate Ranger Freeman, who is school resource officer at St. Clair Walker Middle School in Middlesex County. “The earlier the kids see law enforcement in a positive light, the better it will be for everyone.”

Freeman, who when school is not in session also works for the Middlesex sheriff’s office on regular duty patrol and enforcement, describes his school job as “enforcing school policies and procedures, doing security assessments, and providing a safe atmosphere for students, faculty, and staff. I love being in law enforcement,” he affirms. “It allows me to lead people in the right direction.” He especially enjoys working with young people, he says, because of the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. “I can offer them encouragement when they need it . . . and I enjoy the way I can work with the school administration as a team.”

Thirty years ago, Freeman was a recent high school graduate (King and Queen Central) who, as he says, was “searching for my way through life, and in need of guidance. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go to college, but my high school counselor had done a great job of preparing me for taking any path that I wanted to pursue.” He was not prepared, however, for the experience of being away from home, so his enrollment at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville was short. Instead, he decided to go to RCC: “it was convenient, and close to home.” As he was still not sure what he wanted to do in life, he signed up for the associate degree curriculum in business management, thinking that it would be useful in the future for running either his own or someone else’s business.

In high school, Freeman says, “it was like everyone was one big happy family. When I got to RCC, because people were coming from all over the area, I didn’t think it would be the same. But everyone took the time to make us students feel like we belonged there. We all loved the school, because everyone that worked there was always motivating us, cared about us, and made sure that we were getting an education.”

At the time Freeman attended RCC (1980-83), Dr. John Upton was president. Freeman recalls him as being “such a kind and caring man. President Upton was at all the intramural events, and was so focused and dedicated to the school. He wasn’t into just academics, but all aspects of college life. He would talk to you personally and show that he cared about what was going on.” Dr. Upton, Freeman says, “would give you the shirt off his back. He was like a father figure to all of the students at the school. He loved the school so much, and always made the students feel special.”

Freeman particularly remembers the Virginia Community College System’s “Play Days,” when all 23 colleges came together to compete in various sports. “RCC was one of the smallest schools, but somehow managed to come out on top. That weekend when you went to Lynchburg for the competition was like an RCC family reunion—us against all the other community colleges. We were winners!” He also enjoyed intramural sports—“Back in the day, there was a big rivalry between the north and south campuses. The north campus always won at baseball, and the south always won at basketball.” He mentions RCC’s longtime baseball coach, Wade Johnson, as having “an integrity about himself. He loved baseball, and the team . . . but you still had to go to class!”

Freeman worked for RCC as student activities director for a time, until he saw a want ad for a corrections officer. He remembers that his RCC supervisor, Helen Mills, “encouraged me to go for it. She didn’t want to hold me back.” When he was offered the job, he got some good advice along with it: “I can give you this job, but it’s up to you to keep it.” And for 24 years, he has done so.

“If I could,” says Freeman, “I would visit every high school and promote the benefits of attending RCC. I would say that even if you’re thinking about a four-year college, RCC offers such a great foundation. Students want to go away, but they often don’t know where they want to go or what they want to do. RCC is the right place to be.” He adds that he still uses what he learned at RCC. “They always worked with me to make sure that I had the opportunity to succeed.”

Photo: RCC graduate Ranger Freeman, now school resource officer at St. Clair Walker Middle School in Middlesex County, shows off two basketball trophies that he won while at RCC—the Eastern Regional Invitational Tournament MVP award, and the RCC 1983 Intramural High Point award. Also on view is a plaque attesting to his membership in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges” for the academic year of 1982-83—“my most prized possession,” he says.

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